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Requesting (insisting?!) that rent is lowered - what do you think?

15 replies

AnarchyAunt · 28/09/2008 20:27

We (DD and I) have lived in our house for nearly three years. Its a standard brick terrace, two beds, two living rooms, kitchen and shower room extension. We rent through an agent, but the landlady is a sort of friend - we have lots of mutual friends but she lives in London (we are in Midlands).

Its in what I can only describe as a right state. The kitchen roof let in water for a year until I arranged to have it fixed, and the units are collapsing. The shower room is teeeeny, with a cracked and leaking toilet that smells of wee whatever I do, and black mould on the walls (I keep the window open all the time to air it). There is no boiler or central heating, only a crap immersion heater, and gas fires in the downstairs rooms. No heating at all upstairs. Old single glazed windows so its always freezing. If anything needs fixing I have to sort it out and deduct the money from the rent.

Each time the tenancy is renewed, the agent has put the rent up by £25 PCM. Its now at £450 and I assume it will go up to £475 when the tenancy is renewed again (shortly after Christmas). I am on Housing Benefit, which covers the rent in full at the moment but if the rent goes up again I will have to find any extra myself.

I would move out but its almost impossible to find anywhere that will take HB tenants. So I was going to ask that the rent is lowered, or at least not raised, as properties going for the same rent locally are in far better condition and so surely my rent should reflect the state of the property?

OP posts:
plantsitter · 28/09/2008 20:29

Definitely give it a go. Point out that they are unlikely to find anyone else to rent it in this condition and at this price. It's a tenant's market at the moment supposedly (for once).

Good luck!

AnarchyAunt · 28/09/2008 20:41

I'm just worried about having my bluff called iyswim - I can't afford a rent increase and I can't really move, so I don't want to end up being told to move out.

I only want to try it if I have a fairly good chance.

OP posts:
plantsitter · 28/09/2008 20:49

Does the owner know what state the house is in? Does the agent manage the property and if so does the landlord know that you have to pay for stuff and then take it out of the rent? Maybe you could have a friendly & informal chat with your friend about it. It doesn't sound like you are asking for a reduction but actually just a rent freeze, which might be easier to negotiate. Also if you point out that you will have to move if the rent goes up (because you can't afford the increase) she is likely to want to keep you, a reliable tenant who is known to her than go through the hassle and expense of finding a new person.

If you would rather not present it as an ultimatum then don't but I think they are unlikely to kick you out for asking for a price freeze and you can always pretend to have found the money from somewhere if they really won't budge.

I can see it's a bit of a scary prospect but if you get what you want you will be better off and really pleased with yourself so I definitely think it's worth trying, in a non-confrontational way.

Miyazaki · 28/09/2008 20:51

I would take some photos of the crappy bits and email them to her and the agent...

And ask for them to be fixed or for a rent reduction.

AnarchyAunt · 28/09/2008 21:26

She knows what state its in!

And the agent is just a letting agent so doesn't manage the property - the landlady is meant to but in practice I do it as she is so far away and has no idea what being a landlady means. She just takes the advice of the agent on rent, and he claims to be "keeping it in line with local rents" but of course the house is not really comparable!

She is not exactly a friend - we went to school together (she is a year older though) and we know lots of the same people and get on fine, but don't know each other really apart from as landlady/tenant. It just makes things that bit more awkward when it comes to putting my foot down.

OP posts:
ninedragons · 29/09/2008 04:18

Have a good look at everything else for rent in your area and ask the agents about vacancy rates in the area.

We are renting out our flat while we are overseas. It hasn't been renovated since the 80s (admittedly no issues with leaks or mould etc) but if our tenant asked for a rent reduction we'd tell him to move out - vacancy rates are less than 1% in our area and if he didn't want to pay it we'd find someone who did within a day.

You can't really complain about the size of the shower room or the lack of double-glazing, as you must have known about those when you moved in, but it could certainly be worth approaching the agent about the mould and other issues.

Can your local council give you any help with finding a place that accepts HB tenants?

DelGirl · 29/09/2008 07:40

Well if I was the landlord a} I would want to do renovations to keep the property up to scratch and b] I would keep the rent as it is to keep a decent tenant in. I;ve always said this to the agents I rent a flat through. No point having high rent and no tenant. Keep it reasonable and you will always haveit let.

In short, I would definitely state your case for keeping it as it is. Not sure I would ask for it to be lowered though. hth

tissy · 29/09/2008 08:38

Are you in Nottingham, by any chance? It sounds just like one of the houses I rented when I was a student!

I would get the loo replaced and deduct that from the rent- you could just say it started to leak more...

TBH, I would have a serious look around at what else you could get for the money, there may be another landlord who would be happy taking HB, especially if you can get a reference from the current landlord saying you're reliable.

Upwind · 29/09/2008 08:44

Look around - these days it is a renters' market so it might not be as hard as you think to find somewhere better for the same money.

If they try to raise your rent again write explaining that given the condition of the house, this is not in line with the local market, include photos.

If you do stay, have the toilet replaced and deduct it from your rent. Have the collapsing kitchen units repaired too.

tissy · 29/09/2008 08:54

Just a thought....if the council are paying all your rent, is it possible to get someone from the council to come round and inspect, and see if it is up to the standards they would expect for the rent they are paying?

Surely, as you are at the maximum they will pay, they would have a list of "requirements", e.g heating, insulation?

AnarchyAunt · 29/09/2008 18:49

bathroom and lack of double glazing when I moved in, but it was not obvious that the bathroom would have such appalling damp! And I was prepared to put up with them as the rent was low for the area - but it has gone up when local rents haven't been going up, and so is now about average rather than low. But the condition of the property hasn't been going up to match the rent increase, so is gone from being poor condition house for low rent, to very poor condition house for average rent.
The council appear to have no interest in the state of the house - if they 'condemn' it as unfit, they are likely to have to rehouse us, so they have a vested interest in doing nothing about it.
I am going to draft a very polite letter and back it up with photos of crappy bits, and newspaper cuttings of other houses.

OP posts:
Overmydeadbody · 29/09/2008 18:55

Bloody hell! I live in a property in a similar state and my rent is currently double what you pay!

Landlord has now put the rent up to the point that I can no longer afford it even with HB, and the pain of trying to be rehoused is a nightmare.

Ask, you never know, but ime landlords are greedy bastards who don't think twice about screwing ovewr their tenants

Upwind · 29/09/2008 18:59

I think that some landlords have taken on a lot of debt and they want to charge the tenants more every time interest rates go up. They think they are ENTITLED to make a cut.

Best of luck AnarchyAunt, tissy's advice is good, but wait until you have a new lease in place before making it clear that the disgusting toilet has to be replaced. Say it has got worse - the health risks probably have after so much time!

AnarchyAunt · 29/09/2008 19:01

Whereabouts are you though?
I think grim northern (well, Midlands, but north of London ) towns are cheaper but that goes along with less employment, lower wages blah blah.
Also HB has some wierd definition of a 'fair rent' that (as far as I have ever ascertained) has naff all to do with what landlords will actually charge, so although rents here are low by national standards, HB rates are low too.

OP posts:
scaryteacher · 30/09/2008 09:39

That's a bit strong OMDB - I haven't put the rent up on my place this year, as I know bills are going up and I want my tenants to be able to afford to heat the house. Every time I'm told something needs fixing, I organise it, or my letting agent does. I'd rather keep my tenants happy and the house occupied than anything else.

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